Dolphinton man made threats to JK Rowling

A businessman who fired shots from his garden towards a woman and children had previously made threats of violence against author JK Rowling and her family.

Paul Ritchie is awaiting sentence after terrifying Emma Davis and four youngsters with what turned out to be a paintball gun.

He has already served time in prison for sending threatening emails to UK politicians including former House of Commons speaker John Bercow, ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, former home secretary Amber Rudd and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

Now it's emerged that Ritchie, 36, of West Mill Road, Dolphinton, dodged a jail stretch after targeting Harry Potter author Rowling, Anglican Bishop of Ripon Helen Hartley and four other individuals with threatening messages.

It has emerged that Paul Ritchie also made threats to author JK Rowling.

Ritchie, who runs a property services booking website, pleaded guilty to six charges under the Communications Act 2003.

He appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in June last year when Sheriff Robert Fife placed him under supervision for two years and ordered him to engage with mental health services.

Ritchie was also handed a six-month electronic tag that prevented him leaving his home between 7pm and 7am each day.

But only a week later he was jailed for 12 months for sending what an English judge described as "vile" emails to politicians in 2019.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard that the threats he made included shooting and decapitation.

Last month Emma told how she feared Ritchie would kill someone when he began firing shots as she and the boys, one aged eight and three 15-year-olds, walked past his home.

At Airdrie Sheriff Court he admitted culpably and recklessly discharging a paintball gun, kicking Emma's Staffordshire terrier and assaulting two police officers.

The incident happened on October 18, 2020 - five months after Ritchie had sent threatening emails to Rowling and the others.

Kevin Jarvis, prosecuting, said: "The accused ran out of his front door and kicked the dog in the ribs, causing it to propel into the air and land on the ground.

"Ms Davis warned the children to stay back and told the accused she was going to contact the police.

"She started to walk away and the accused went back inside his property.

"A few seconds later Ms Davis heard what she described as popping noises. She turned and saw the accused standing in his garden, holding what appeared to be a handgun.

"He was discharging shots from it in the direction of her and the others.

"Ms Davis went home and contacted the police."

Armed officers rushed to the scene and were met by Ritchie who protested 'It's only a paintball gun'.

Emma, 40, said she and her family were forced to move from the area after the incident.

Her 14-year-old dog, Maya, suffered trauma from Ritchie's attack and eventually had to be put down.

Emma said: "You wouldn't expect anything like this to happen in a lovely, quiet village.

"We were absolutely no threat to him and yet he was firing in our direction as we backed away.

"It was horrific. I genuinely thought the children were going to die. It didn't make any sense - it was crazy behaviour."

Ritchie was due to be sentenced over the paintball incident last week, but Sheriff Joseph Hughes agreed to adjourn the case until October for a psychiatric report.

Defence agent Archie Hill told the court: "My client has had long standing difficulties with his mental health.

"Since his release from prison he has been trying to engage with social services."​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​